Monday Moves v2.6: Instagram Window Shopping, Ebay Shoe Copping
Sam: I hope you all had a great weekend! My weekend was filled with working on my own tech company aspirations, meeting Klondike, my parents new dog, and enjoying the rain (ski season soon!). Raj and I have a blast writing each week, and we appreciate you being here. We are always looking for feedback and guest writers so let us know if you want to be involved!
Raj: Welcome to the latest edition of Monday Moves. BEFORE YOU READ ANY FURTHER, think of one person in your life who would enjoy reading this newsletter. It could be a family member, friend, or colleague. Now that you’ve thought of them, it’s your obligation to forward them this newsletter; otherwise, you’d be depriving them of something beneficial as you just admitted. Gotcha!
Something I’m looking forward to is this upcoming documentary from Reason on the cypherpunks, an extremely cool group of mathematicians and programmers in the ‘90s who advanced the field of cryptography. The cypherpunk spirit is alive today in the form of Bitcoin, WikiLeaks, and more. I call myself a “wannabe cypherpunk” because of my interest but amateurish understanding in this subject matter.
Welcome back Adi Shastry, who continues where he left off last week.
A variation of the iconic, highly collectable, and easily forged Yeezy by Kanye West and Adidas
Sam: Ebay will start to verify shoes sold on its platform to help cut down on counterfeits. Will it also cut down on their business?
Ebay announced today that they will be moving towards a system which independently verifies all shoes sold on the website. Ebay has struggled with counterfeit goods on their website for years, and shoes have always been at the forefront of that issue. Because of the rampant counterfeit market in shoes, two markets which verify shoes, StockX and GOAT, became prominent. These websites work in the same way that the Ebay service will work. After a seller and buyer agree on a price, the shoes are shipped to a third party where they are verified as authentic, tagged showing they are verified, and then shipped to the buyer. The service takes a percentage fee for this service.
The question here is, why does Ebay want to do this? According to their press release, over 6 million pairs of shoes were sold on Ebay in 2019. Personally I wonder how many of these transactions were counterfeit. Some research from StockX insinuates it was a lot. The plan is eventually to verify all shoes bought and sold on Ebay, which means the counterfeit market will have to find a new home. This has the potential to dramatically decrease the shoe market on Ebay in the short term, but in the long term getting rid of counterfeits will attract more buyers and sellers from StockX and GOAT. I sell and buy on StockX, and I am hopeful that the new competition will help cut down on their remarkably high fees. Ebay is the undisputed champion of online bidding and the collectable market, and I think this is a strong long term move that will help them keep that title.
Raj: Coinbase CEO Brian Armstrong announced that the company will prioritize causes directly related to its mission. An entirely reasonable statement has generated controversy.
Recently, Brain Armstrong penned an announcement detailing the mission and motivations of his company Coinbase, which is a currency exchange platform and a trailblazer in both the cryptocurrency and fin-tech spaces. I should disclose that I have been an avid user of the platform for many years and that it is my number one destination for buying or selling (but not storing) Bitcoin. The key to Armstrong’s post is the following statement: “We don’t engage….when issues are unrelated to our core mission, because we believe impact only comes with focus.” Coinbase has thus committed itself to its core mission of using cryptocurrency to build an open financial system for the world. Armstrong’s post comes at a time of social upheaval when many Silicon Valley companies engage in activism and political endorsements. These actions may or may not be well intentioned, but they have the effect of destroying value at a company by distracting workers and dividing them along an entirely avoidable fracture. I believe most entrepreneurs and CEOs secretly believe what Armstrong has explicitly stated. Companies must act like a championship team that defaults to trust over accusations and focuses on unity over division while sustaining high performance. There are parallels here to how Phil Jackson and Michael Jordan carried the Chicago Bulls to multiple consecutive titles in the 1990s. The only way that a complicated and important mission gets accomplished is by uniting many people in focusing on solving a difficult problem. I applaud Armstrong’s timely show of leadership and I am glad to be a user of Coinbase’s platform.
Raj: Instagram is improving its search feature. This is going to be a game changer for online shopping.
Jordan Banafsheha has the inside track on new improvements to the Instagram search feature. Instagram is already how many people shop online, but these improvements are going to further solidify Instagram as the premier online “window shopping” experience as users prefer the mall experience to visiting websites for individual retailers. The biggest update is searching for content. Instagram’s search is currently limited to accounts, hashtags, and places. This is a drastically limited search functionality when compared to any other social media, but it made sense given that Instagram has historically been about curating a personal collage of image-based posts. But today, Instagram is all about the influencers, so it’s more in the business of promoting content than catering to small accounts. The new search feature is tailor-made to be picked up by influencers who can curate collections of items for sale (watch for major money pumped in this direction by retailers and advertisers). The collections can be shared among thousands of fans, and can even be curated by individual users. Pairing online shopping with curation and collections adds a whole new dimension to the experience that is missing from Amazon, and is sure to drive up engagement for Instagram. Online shopping has become an atomized experience, done individually on laptops or smartphones with few easy ways to collaborate and discuss. As Jordan puts it: “Shopping IRL is social. It will soon be social online too.”
Sam: Netflix does not like to share, but the previously exclusive Narcos is now available on Pluto TV.
Netflix’s exclusive drama about drug lords has found a new audience. The widely popular Narcos will be streaming on Pluto TV (owned by ViacomCBS) with a new season being released on the platform over each of the coming months. Pluto TV has been a huge focus for ViacomCBS recently, and it is one of the leading free, ad-supported, streaming services. This is only the second time that Netflix has shared their exclusive content with a competitor. Nextflix’s original animated comedy, Bojack Horseman, is also licenced to Comedy Central. Although the details of both deals are not public, Netflix likely got a substantial amount of money since giving up the coveted title “exclusive” does not come easily. Deals like these show the complexity of licencing, digital content, and streaming services. The market is still very fluid as each entity tries to out position the competition. I think sharing content makes sense since it helps with cross promotion. Pluto TV users and Comedy Central viewers might be excited to see what else Netflix has to offer if they enjoy the content. Likewise, Netflix users might be interested in watching Comedy Central or checking out Pluto TV if they know their favorite shows are there. The key here is that viewers understand the flow of content in order to seek out the partner platform, and with the complexity of these agreements I am not sure that is happening.
Adi: Last week I wrote on the need to take precautions against cybersecurity threats while working from home. There are many measures that organizations can take to maintain their integrity in the face of new forms of attacks.
The basis for most cybersecurity solutions is maintaining the CIA Triad, without which organizations open themselves to cyber attacks.
Confidentiality: Solutions need to maintain the privacy of materials and information being transmitted
Integrity: Solutions must ensure that the materials and information being transmitted have not been tampered during the transmission
Availability: Solutions must ensure that relevant materials and information are available when needed.
Below are some guidelines on maintaining the triad organizationally as well as at the employee level. First, for organizations to mitigate cyber risk:
Ensure VPNs are fully patched and updated prior to telework. If your organization does not already have a VPN, consider if a VPN is necessary for your firm. For more information on VPNs please visit NCSC's webpage.
Make sure devices are encrypted to ensure that there is no breach to your organization's IT infrastructure in the event a device is lost or stolen
Make sure your staff knows how to report problems if any should occur. This must be done in a blame-free manner.
Ensure that work-only devices do not accept removable media to mitigate the risk of malignant programs being executed.
If your organization allows the use of personal devices for work, ensure that you have taken the proper considerations (some of which can be found in NCSC's article regarding BYOD policies).
Develop a Business Continuity Plan (BCP) that will serve as a method to get your organization back on track in the event of a cyber attack of any size.
Finally, ensure workers are given adequate training on telework policies and more importantly on how to practice basic cyber resiliency measures.
Teaching employees basic cyber safety is just as important to keep your organization safe.
Passwords are still the first line of defense against cyberattacks and therefore need to be strong and changed often. Using password management services such as Lastpass, Dashlane, and others allows you to keep track of one very good password generated using methods such as diceware.
Ensure all programs and operating systems are fully patched and updated as well as set to automatically update. This will hopefully protect your employees and your organization from zero-day attacks, where attackers exploit a known vulnerability in a program that a user hasn't updated.
Teach members of your organization about basic defense against phishing attacks. Some guidelines on how to protect yourself from phishing scams can be found here.
These considerations just scratch the surface of what needs to be done to protect your organization to the fullest capacity. Cybersecurity is continuously becoming something that every organization, from a sole proprietorship to a multinational corporation, needs to consider on a daily basis. These last few months have seen a tremendous amount of change, with which we must also change the way we protect not only our health but our digital lives.
Who’s Making Moves?
Raj: Cloud communications platform Twilio is acquiring Segment, an overlapping company, for $3.2 billion. This is 2 years since Twilio acquired API provider SendGrid for $2 billion. Twilio stock is up 146% since then.
Raj: Just about 14 years ago, Google bought up-and-coming video sharing platform YouTube in a billion dollar deal that confounded the notoriously behind-the-times reporters at the New York Times who likened it to the dot-com bubble. Today, YouTube is worth hundreds of billions of dollars.
Sam: Foxconn is not delivering what they promised in Wisconsin, and it looks like their facility will be considerably smaller than originally anticipated.
Sam: Tweets are going to be harder to retweet starting October 20th and twitter says it will mean fewer viral tweets. Twitter is going to encourage users to quote tweet instead of the traditional retweet in an attempt to slow down misinformation before the election.
Sam: Hindenburg Research has a new report coming out tomorrow! Who knows what it will be about… if we are lucky it will be about Nikola again, ha!
That’s all for this week. Keep on moving.
Title contenders for v2.6:
Ebay Shoes, Coinbase Views
Cyber Integrity, Coinbase Sincerity
Adi: I am a Biomedical Engineering student at Columbia University interested in medical devices, robotics, cybersecurity, and entrepreneurship. My life passion is to advance social causes in more meaningful ways using new frontiers of technology. I like to use my free time learning something new, playing an instrument, watching Formula 1, or tinkering with electronics or code.
We both work hard to make this one of the best emails in your inbox each week. If you’re enjoying Monday Moves, share it with a couple friends. You can send them this link to sign up.
Until next Monday,
Raj & Sam